I just finished reading this book by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. The take a look at prayer through three examples: the Lord's Prayer, Jesus prayer in John 17, and Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23.
Here are some scattered thoughts and notes and quotes that I've decided to share:
"Prayer is not so much about convincing God to do what we want God to do as it is about convincing ourselves to do what God wants us to do." This rings true for me. I know that sometimes God uses my prayers to change the world around me and the situations I pray for, but far more often he uses my prayers to change me. If I pray and remain unchanged, was I really praying? As Lifehouse sings, "How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?" "Prayer is less about what we say and more about being with the one we love." And if we're really with him, when we really open ourselves to his love, to boldly approach his throne and sit at his feet, we cannot remain unchanged.
"When we pray to God asking, 'Why don't you do something?' we hear a gentle whisper respond, 'I did something. I made you.'" And not only made us, but loved us, moved in with us, died and conquered death for us, and empowered us with the Holy Spirit.
The Lord's Prayer begins with "Our Father..." The very first word indicates that we are praying in community. God's name is honored first, our community is called into his holiness, and his Kingdom is called to earth. In that Kingdom was are to live as instruments of shalom. God's kingdom (unavoidably political) is not of this world. It is invading. [Lots of themes from another book Shane co-authored, Jesus for President, fit here.] Next Jesus jumps right to economics: daily bread and forgiving debts. These remind us of mana in the desert and the beauty of the year of Jubilee. Earlier in Luke (during Jesus inaugural address) he made the claim that Jubilee was fulfilled in him, in his Person.
When people ask Shane or Jason questions about living in the hood -- why they aren't afraid of living in such 'dangerous' places -- they usually respond with this:
"We're more afraid of shopping malls."
I love that.
Part 2 coming soon.